Hello everyone! I’m Shane Sullivan, the investment manager of New Dominion Angels (NDA), a DC-based accredited investors group with over 50 members who invest in Mid-Atlantic based technology companies through pooled single-purpose vehicles. NDA has invested in 23 companies over the past 10 years spanning B2B software, IoT, and HealthTech.
In my time with NDA I’ve sought resources to expand my knowledge of venture capital and have incorporated John’s blog and newsletter into my industry monitoring routine.
From my understanding of the VC market, and my previous search, I’ve gained an appreciation for how difficult breaking into the venture capital industry is and how competitive getting hired as a VC analyst or associate can be.
In my reviews of John’s VC jobs blog I contemplated if a source existed that compiled the job posting data, and assessed trends in the VC job market.
Unable to easily locate analyses elsewhere, I turned back to John’s content.
Details about the VC jobs dataset (and how I analyzed it)
I commenced scraping current job posts and those available through internet archives to see if John provided a large enough dataset, for my own analysis.
Shortly after commencing my efforts John called out the unusual traffic on his venture capital jobs blog in an email to subscribers.
“P.P.S. If you were the person Mechanical Turking the blog about a week ago, would love to know what you are working on — and maybe promote it if it’s relevant to the list. Drop me a line?”
After reaching out to explain, John generously agreed to provide a full download of all of the blog’s historic data, provided I share any findings in a guest post on his blog.
The XML data from John’s VC jobs blog was parsed using python and exported to xls. Given the unstructured nature of the data and variance in posting formats significant effort was required prior to analysis to normalize job titles, hiring firms, locations, and posting dates.
While John first posted VC related job opportunities in 2010 it was not until 2015 that post volumes became significant and were published on a consistent basis. It was immediately apparent that the time range of the data would limit insights to general hiring patterns over anticipating opportunities with specific firms.
Understanding its limitations, John’s data did demonstrate clear patterns related to when firms search for analysts and associates. The below analysis is based on 739 VC analyst and associate openings posted between 05/28/15 and 05/28/18 at over 450 US firms in 27 states. It should be noted that the dataset is heavily influenced by John’s personal network.
When VC jobs are posted:
Charted below is the monthly distribution of all opportunities posted in the three-year period from May 2015 to May 2018.
As might be expected, the slowest posting period occurs in June prior to summer with other slow months in late summer and before winter holidays. Somewhat surprisingly, considering fall MBA recruitment for permanent roles, postings reach their highest peak in May, with 54.8% of all openings posted in the first five months of the year.
Recruiting timeline for VC analysts vs VC associates:
Of all opportunities listed from 2015 to 2018 VC analyst openings accounted for 32.2% of positions and VC associate roles 67.8%. For each, over 55% of postings occur in the first five months of the year.
Posting peaks and troughs are earlier and more extreme for analyst roles which experience a mid-summer surge in postings, that associates do not.
In the fall Associates experience a small surge in openings, potentially from MBA targeted roles, while analyst roles steadily decline through the end of the year.
VC fund jobs vs corporate venture jobs:
The 450 plus firms hiring for these roles included:
- Independent venture funds
- Corporate venture divisions
- Venture roles within corporations
Examples of each type of position include analyst roles with Union Square Ventures, Associate opportunities with Gradient Ventures of Google, and Corporate Development Analyst positions with Microsoft, respectively. The composition of would-be employers is 67.7% venture funds and 32.3% corporate roles.
Funds seem to seek employees aggressively in the first two months of the year while corporations’ postings are comparably low. Both follow similar overall trajectories with equal proportions of total postings occurring by May, before steep declines in postings in June.
Unlike venture fund positions, opportunities with corporates increase mid-summer with a steady decline until late fall, a time of increasing opportunities at venture funds.
Geographic distribution of VC jobs:
The 739 positions were distributed across 27 states with high concentrations of opportunities in the major tech markets of San Francisco, New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles. Together these areas accounted for 73.9% of all VC job opportunities or 45.1%, 19.1%, 5.3%, and 4.5%, respectively. “Markets” include major metro areas that may span multiple states, e.g. opportunities in New Jersey proximate to New York City.
To better understand the distribution of opportunities at state levels see the below heat map.
Venture capital hiring patterns by geography:
Below is a breakout of openings by major tech markets with LA and Boston grouped together given the relatively small sample size. “Other” includes venture capital jobs in smaller tech markets such as Austin, Seattle, and Washington DC as well as opportunities across the US.
Generally, all markets follow the trend seen previously of posting greater than 50.0% of positions by May, a slow summer with moderate activity in late fall. The unusual summer spike seen in the Boston & LA data is attributable to high volumes of July openings in 2017 of which 72.7% were corporate.
Why we might be seeing these patterns in venture capital hiring:
- The start of the fiscal year and official close dates for new funds could be contributing factors for hiring trends through May.
- The peak in fall opportunities seen amongst associate roles and with venture funds may result from efforts to target job-seeking timelines of MBA candidates and other students.
- The spike in summer corporate hiring is potentially the result of year-round recruiting teams at large organizations nonexistent at smaller firms.
The geographic distribution of opportunities is interesting but not surprising. It should be noted again that all patterns are heavily influenced by John’s personal network and the opportunities he is able to share on his blog.
Refining your VC job search tactics to take advantage of these trends
If you are trying to break into VC or to make a move within the industry taking historic hiring patterns into account could help you land your next position.
For VC Analysts:
Historically, postings have a final annual peak in September at 6.7%, steadily declining to 5.0% in December.
In the slow fall season focusing on networking, particularly at firms where analysts were hired over a year ago (as they are likely to be moving on) or with firms closing larger new funds would be a good priority.
Ideally these efforts will prove worthwhile when postings peak early the following year in February, April, and May.
For VC Associates:
October is the historic fall peak when 8.4% of associate roles and 9.4% of venture fund positions are posted.
As always, networking is ideal and if you are not lucky enough to land a fall position, or if you are more interested in corporate roles, putting extra effort in now should position you well for peak hiring early next year.
If you have any questions or would like to connect send me a note at email@example.com